The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter (available August 7th) is a single book made up of three crime novels told across decades—from the years 1941, 1951, and 1961—each capturing the style and setting of a giant of crime writing from the era: Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson.
The three stories together tell one epic, interlocking tale of an an author whose life is shattered when violence and tragedy consume the people closest to him. In this exclusive excerpt, you’ll get a taste from each of the three!
And don’t miss the special bonus at the end of the excerpt!
The rain started with no warning. It had been dark for an hour by then, and the night had masked the accumulation of clouds. But once it began, the raindrops fell with such violence that everyone in Verargent felt oppressed.
After forty minutes of constant drumming—it was near eight o’clock, Tuesday, April 4, 1931—the rain eased some, settling into the steady spring rainfall that would continue throughout the night.
The rain’s new tenor allowed for other sounds. The baker, on his way to bed for the night, heard the lapping of a large body of water from behind his basement door. He shot back the lock, and rushed downstairs to find nearly two feet of water covering the basement floor. A gushing stream ran down the wall that faced the street.
Appalled, the baker rushed up the stairs calling to his wife. She hurried past him, down the stairs, to see for herself, as he went to the coat rack to retrieve his black rain slicker. This had happened before. Something blocked the gutter at the side of the street, and the water was redirected down their drive, flooding the basement. Somebody in Town Hall would hear from him in the morning.
He opened the front door and went out into the rain just as his wife arrived from the basement. The force of the storm pressed the hood of his slicker over his forehead. He hurried down the drive with his head bowed; rivulets of water formed long v’s on the packed earth beneath his feet. Now he’d be up much of the night bailing out the basement, and he had to be up at three-thirty to make the bread. The mayor would hear about this in the morning!
He reached the end of the drive, about twenty-five feet, and looked along the curb towards the opening to the sewer. The streetlamps were not lit, but there appeared to be a person lying in the gutter. The baker cursed all drunks.
[Read the full excerpt of The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter]